The argument that Lagos and Abuja centric nature of development was owing to the fact that these cities were formerly and currently federal capitals is valid. This reality, no doubt is responsible for infrastructural development in these Nigerian cities. But, the truth remains that the latest development finding by an international body has revealed Ibadan as a city with great investment potential with its expanding economies.
You may argue that there is no way Ibadan will become the federal capital. It’s important that we understand that no city is far from becoming federal capital. Remember, Calabar was the Capital of Southern protectorate before Lagos replaced it in 1906.
Why was the capital moved to Abuja? During the administration of General Murtala Ramat Muhammad, precisely in 1976, the move for relocation of federal capital began when a panel under the chairmanship of Justice Akinola Aguda was constituted to advise the federal government on whether it should retain Lagos or opt for another state. The panel saw Lagos as unfit (after several years) to retain that position. Some of the reasons advanced were tiny landmass of Lagos and high population density juxtaposed with high commercial and industrial activities making the government uneasy as well as the vulnerability of Lagos to threat of ocean rise induced by global warming.
The choice of Abuja was informed by its centrality to virtually all other states, amenable natural environment, abundance of landmass for future expansion, lack of dominance by any ethnic group with its sense of spatial equality.
You must not forget too that until 1970, Ibadan was the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa. At the moment, Johannesburg is the biggest city in sub-Saharan Africa’s leading economy, and is reaching the size of a large European city. Its nominal GDP output is $51 billion very close to Munich, in Germany which has a GDP of $64 billion.
Attention is shifting to emerging investment markets following economic downturn in the west. Surprisingly, new report has is that Lagos and Ibadan will make up 10 leading African cities to watch for investment inflow. This report is contained in a research conducted by Frontier Strategy Group, an international research firm which forecasts that Africa will have 73 cities of 1 – 5 million by 2025.
According to the research, the big cities include Accra, Johannesburg, Lagos, Luanda in Angola and Kenya. The report has it that Lagos has a small economy of $40 billion which is expected to rise when Nigeria rebases its economic statistics this year. It also noted that Lagos will outpace Johannesburg which is its nearest competitor.
It’s important to note that Ibadan is featured among the next 5 large cities with rapidly expanding economies, biggest potential rewards and business climate deficiencies: infrastructure, corruption, and regulation which these multinationals could stomach.
The report noted that population density advantage, proximity to Lagos which houses major sea ports, international airports and other business activities placed Ibadan in the latest ranking factor for fastest growth.
When Ibadan will become the federal capital is only left to posterity, but with the recent investment inflow into Africa, there is no doubt that Ibadan is on the way to reclaim the same status as Lagos and Abuja.